The Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning is truly a unique Institution. What makes it so special is that it provides opportunities to learn myriad, yet very valuable facets of life. As a young boy, I would see students dressed in white, eagerly coming for Darshan of our Lord. I often dreamt how nice it would be to be a student in Swami’s College, only to realise that in course of time, the beautiful Lord would graciously bestow on me this golden opportunity to be a part of His wonderful system.
I must confess that in Puttaparthi, I actually got opportunities to do things that I never thought I was even capable of. I thoroughly enjoyed the entire experience. The homely atmosphere in the Hostel, the most enjoyable lectures at the Institute, the thought provoking discussions with our revered teachers, the grandeur of the sports day and so many other moments. But above all it was the care, loving affection and Divine Love that Swami showered on us.
Our Lord showered on us His Infinite Love – guiding, cajoling, inspiring and at times when we were slow to learn, ‘appearing harsh’ as well. In each and every action of Bhagawan, there was some message which was conveyed in the subtlest manner. Often what appeared as a joke carried a meaning for somebody or the other.
Today, as I turn back the pages of my life, and go down memory lane, fond and joyous moments rush back. It feels like only yesterday..… At this juncture, I would like to share some of my experiences with Swami.
On the occasion of Krishna Janmashtami, the Mandir was beautifully decorated, and in the morning the Hall resounded with the boys chanting stotrams. The Hostel too geared up for the festival dishing out various delicacies. Amongst the many treats was ‘payasam’ which, when prepared in the North Indian style is relished as ‘kheer’. It goes without saying that it tastes fantastic. After having had my fill of the payasam, I returned to my room to find that my senior brother too was treating himself to the kheer. Both of us just loved the preparation and my senior brother announced in Hindi “Doosra Round Maar Ke Aate Hain” – (let’s help ourselves to a second round of kheer) to which I quipped, “Haan Zaroor, Bahut Der Ke Baad Hamein Kheer Mil Rahi Hai” (yes sure, we will go ahead as we are getting kheer after such a long gap).
After consuming the kheer and feeling satisfied, we went about our routine. In the evening, it so happened that both of us were seated next to each other during Darshan. The fresh fragrance of the earth from the morning’s rain was still present. The atmosphere felt charged as we all waited for Swami. The music started; Sai Krishna glided out, looking so beautiful – with twinkling eyes and a mesmerising smile. He slowly walked up to where we were seated; looking at both of us with a mischievous smile, in a melodious voice He asked “How was second round of payasam?” Both of us had the broadest of grins, and the Lord joined us in the frolic. But more was to come as, looking at me sympathetically, He said “Bahut Der Ke Baad Mein, Hostel Mein Deta Hai!” He repeated what I had said just a few hours earlier!
In this manner Swami reminded us that nothing remains unnoticed by Him. He is Our Omnipresent Lord.
The month of November is awaited eagerly by all Sai devotees around the world. For the boys too, it is a special time filled with plenty of work. I was blessed with a chance of participating in the Convocation Drama. Swami expects that the best performance is put up. He inspires, guides, and motivates us to do our best. That year I was selected to play the part of Sant Kabir’s Guru – a most daunting task in my opinion. Playing the role of a Guru and that too Kabir’s Guru was a formidable task. But Swami always encourages and motivates us to rise up to the expectations. Swami gave His attention to every minute detail of the drama and inspired one and all to give their best.
During the interactions Swami asked me “Kya Karta Hai?” to which I said, “Sant Kabir Ka Guru.” “Kabir Ka Guru?” asked Swami with some astonishment. “Kya Naam Kabir Ka Guru?” – “Raamaanand Teerth”, I replied. Swami immediately corrected, “No, No, not Raamaanand but it is Ramaanand, Raamaanand is the name of a politician”. I nodded.
|Sant Kabir (Died 1518)|
After some days, Swami most graciously consented to bless the boys with a Poorna Chandra auditorium session. In the session, Swami’s attention went to the drama and some details were discussed with our teachers. Swami then turned His attention to me and asked “Kya Karta Hai?” “Swami, Sant Kabir Ka Guru Hai”– “Oh Ho Kabir Ka Guru,” said Swami chuckling – this caused much amusement amongst boys and they all laughed at my expense. I of course joined them. “Kya Naam Kabir Ka Guru?” – “Ramaanand”, I replied confidently as I felt Swami had already ‘corrected’ me. “Aye not Ramaanand, but Raamaanad Teerth. Ramaanand is the name of a politician.” I once again nodded thinking that I must have heard Him wrong last time.
The drama progressed and Swami constantly monitored it, much to our delight. But in the next few days more ‘drama’ was too follow. One evening during Darshan, Swami asked me once again “Kya Karta Hai Drama Mein,” and I gave Swami my role description. “Kya Naam Kabir Ka Guru?”was Swami’s immediate query. Raamaanand – I replied now, ‘thinking’ I was very sure. Immediately He responded saying, “Nahin, Kabir Ka Guru Ramaanand Hai.” This left me thoroughly confused and bewildered. I kept pondering as to what Swami was conveying. After some introspection and prayers to Swami, the incident between Lord Krishna and Arjuna raced across my mind. Arjuna humbly submits that whatever the Lord says is right and does not use his individual discretion to say whether a bird was a dove or an eagle or a crow. I held my heavy head in my hands thinking what a dull student I had been.
The merciful Lord provided me another opportunity and asked the same set of questions. This time I bent forward and said – ‘Whatever Swami says is right. I don’t know if it’s Ramaanand or Raamaanand.’ Our Sweet Lord laughed enthusiastically and everybody joined Him. Feeling pleased that it had finally dawned on me, He then provided the ‘correct’ pronunciation saying “His correct name is Raamaanand Teerth.”
My time spent in Parthi was filled with opportunities to learn something new. It has been a fascinating experience which I will always cherish. I submit my heartfelt gratitude to my dear teachers and my Sweet Lord for enabling me to undertake this wonderful journey.
- Siddharth Malik
Student (1997-1999), Department of Management Studies
Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning
Prasanthi Nilayam Campus